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The Next Build, the path to beta and source code… January 13, 2010

Posted by luciusdxl in Uncategorized.

I uploaded a video showing many of the new Build 9 features such as dynamic lights, bloom, WIP approximate color map support, reticle support and optional textured minimap support running on the new renderer.

Download the high resolution version

(If you read the forums, some of this information will be redundant)

It’s been a long time in coming due to various issues, distractions and delays but I’m “over the hump” with Build 9 and I’m on the down hill slope toward release. Build 9 marks the end of an era, the final set of major internal refactoring and rewriting tasks – the rendering engine has basically been completely rewritten since Build 8.05 with major changes to other systems like collision. What this means is that all builds can be much smaller and more incremental. I’m hoping to get on a release schedule until the project reaches “release,” maybe 1 build a week. What this also means is that the path toward beta will be relatively smooth and clear. There will be issues and bugs of course but the major hurdles are past.

Build 9

Here is the feature list for the upcoming build (may be incomplete but the important stuff is here):

  • Much improved renderer. Improved performance, improved culling, no more overlapping sector issues, no more complex-sector tessellation issues. Much better batching and data management. This is the “final” renderer (i.e. just bug fixes and enhances from here on out).
  • Improved collision detection using the improved sector data format. This should fix getting stuck on adjoins, seeing black when at an adjoin, falling through rotating sectors.
  • Extended feature – dynamic lighting.
  • Extended feature – glow/bloom of fullbright / emissive pixels.
  • Extended feature – reticle support. Reticles can be recolored, opacity can be adjusted and reticle image can be selected.
  • iMuse modified to just play the basic track and not switch to “combat” music until I fix it properly. In addition hopefully the hanging notes will be gone as well.
  • Proper sprite/flat sorting – no more dark edges around sprites.
  • Various rendering fixes – such as walls being able to display sky.
  • All levels can be selected, though not necessarily completable (see next part of the post for a timetable for that).
  • Launcher.

The Path to Beta and Release

Once this build finally gets out, the plan is to implement the remaining logics and weapons (and fix bugs of course). I’m going to do this incrementally. For example, whenever a new weapon is implemented – as well as the logics necessary to acquire the weapon and it’s ammo – a new build will be released. If a new enemy is implemented, a build will be released. And so on. I will do this until all the logics and weapons are implemented (including secondary fire).

Once that is finished, I will proceed to fix/finish all the INF features – incrementally.

At that point I’ll fix/finish anything that remains that does not allow the game to be completed from start to finish. This will mark the “beta.” Once at beta, I will then finish/fix anything remaining that needs to be there to complete the experience. This includes finishing/fixing iMuse, fixing any cutscene issues and whatever issues may remain at that time. I will also spend the time to make sure that any problems with user levels are addressed as well. During the beta phase I will also be working on the level editor again.

Once the level editor and other editing tools are functional and the game is “complete” I will consider the “core DarkXL” project to be finished. At this point I’ll move on to features such as multiplayer and other extended features. Of course I’ll be fixing bugs as well. Anyway multiplayer will have it’s own alpha and beta period – allowing users to be able to download a stable, tested release version or the current multiplayer beta until that is complete. There’s not much point planning beyond that phase.

Source Code Release

If you look at the FAQ or read the forums, you’ll see that I promised to release the source code at some point. That point will be shortly after DarkXL reaches BETA and I have time to clean up and document the code. From then onward, every release will also have up to date source code made available. At that point I will probably start to coordinate with some volunteers about getting some ports to other platforms, such as Mac OS X. The DarkXL engine will also serve as a base for future ports/remakes that use similar types of engines, whatever they may be.



1. Mitch - January 15, 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is 16 kinds of awesome!

2. Thrawn05 - January 16, 2010

I can’t wait for the next release. DF was my first FPS and I’ve played this game literally forwards and backwards (no seriously, I’d use cheat codes to set myself up and play the level backwards xD).

3. Tim Noyce - January 16, 2010

Excellent summation Lucius.

Thanks for posting an update!

4. Zach - January 16, 2010

Thank you thank you thank you some more, Lucius. This is fantastic. Keep up the good work, comrade. You are doing a great thing.

5. Staffan Bengtsson - January 20, 2010

Is there any plan of making the singleplayer game complete so it can be played from start to end with cutscenes etc? Or is it just an engine to be used for custom stuff?

luciusdxl - January 20, 2010

If you read the blog post, specifically “The Path to Beta and Release”, it mentions that the game needs to be completely beatable, having cutscenes, music and other features completely working. Here is a quote from the blog post above: “…At that point I’ll fix/finish anything that remains that does not allow the game to be completed from start to finish. This will mark the “beta.” Once at beta, I will then finish/fix anything remaining that needs to be there to complete the experience. This includes finishing/fixing iMuse, fixing any cutscene issues and whatever issues may remain at that time.”

6. CSunkyst - January 21, 2010

At the risk of sounding like a nag… As far as completeing the game, how far along will the next release be? Are we talking about levels that won’t load, or just missing weapons/items/enemies? How many levels will be playable.

In any case thank you for your hard unpaid work, good luck, and god speed.

luciusdxl - January 21, 2010

Some major systems have been reworked under the hood. What this means is that the same levels are completable but they will all load. You’ll be able to see all the levels, if not play them properly. There has been a lot of behind the scenes setup that will allow me to do smaller, incremental builds after this to implement the missing enemies, weapons and so on quickly.

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